Malayalam is spoken by about six million people in Southern India.
Malayalam or Makyarma (Malayayma) is usually deriyed from mala, mountain, and
NameoftheUnguag*. ^^^^'^^' ^ ^^^ derived from ah to possess. According to
Bishop Caldwell the best translation of the word would be
* mountain region.' It accordingly properly applies to the country, and not to the
language- The first part of the word is identical with MaXc, whence the pepper comes,
in Cosmas Indicopleustes' Christian Topography (about 545 A.D.). It also forms the
first component in the word Malabar, which apparently occurs for the first time in the
Geography of Edrisi (about A.D. 1150). Compare Maler, the name of another Dravi-
The old Sanslcrit nnme foi* the Malayalam country was Kerala, which woi'd occurs
in Malnyalamin theforms Kerajam, Cheralam, and Cheram. An inhabitant of the
country is also called Kelan or Kelu, and this word has been comp'^red by Bishop Cald-
well with Pliny's Krfpofio^po^, 'Kernla' occurs as early as in the A66ka iuscriptions
(third century B.C.).
The Malayalam language has no separate denomination. The old Aryans did not
distinguish it from Tamil, and it is only at a relatively modern date that it has branched
off from that form of speech.
Malayajam is spoken along the western coast from Kasargodu in the north to
Area within Which spoken. Trivaudrum in the south. The eastern frontier is the
western Ghats, and on the west the Malayalam cotmtry is
bounded by the Arabian Sea. It covers the southern part of South Canara, the whole of
Malabar and Cochin, with numerous settlers in the adjoining parts of Mysore and Nilgiri,
and, lastly, the greatest part of Travaneore. Outside this territory the language is only
spoken by a few settlers.
In South Canara Malayalam is bounded by Tiilu. In Coorg it meets Kudagu, and
Linguistic Boundaries. itg eastom neighbours are Kanarese and Tamil.
Like the rest of the literary Dravidian languages Malayalam has two different
^. , ^ forms, one used in old literature, and the other the collo-
quial form of si)eech. The literary dialect is still more
closely connected with Tamil than the colloquial language. The principal point of
difference from Tamil is the greater proportion of Sanskrit loan words. While Tamil
has the smallest admixture of sueli foreign elements among all literary Dravidian
languages, Malayalam is the most Sanskritized of them all, and even admits the con-
jugational forms of that language. Some productions of educated authors have been
described as * pure Sanskrit connected or concluded by a few words in Malayalam,'
just as we have Ilindostiini books written almost entirely in Persian.
The colloquial languaire differ-? slightly according to locality, but we have no
information about the existence of definite Malayalam dialects. Yerava has been
3*etnrned as sneh a form of speech from Coorg, and the figures for that dialect have,
therefore, been added to those returned for Malayalam. It is, how<*ver, possible thai
Yerava is in reality identical with Yerukala. which has been dealt with above as a dia-
lect of Tamil.
According to the reports of the Censuses of 1891 and 1901 Malayalara was spoken as
Number of speakers, ^ home language in the following districts : —
Centus of 1891. CeniOB of 1901.
SnutBOanara ..,.••.• 191,696 217,856
Malabar • , . 2,481,974 2,624,263
Travancore .....••.. 2,079,271 2,420,049
Cochia ....,,... 641,738 715,847
Nilgiris 8,775 4,759
Coorg 11,299 14,039
Mysore ......... 1,500 3,121
Malayalam was, to a small extent, spoken ontside the territory where it is a rernaoular.
L^he figures given in the Census reports of 1891 and 1901 were as follows : —
Andamans and Nicobars
Berar . • .
Central Provinces .
Nortb- Western Frontier
United Provinces .
Censua of 1801.
Ceasiis of liiOl
Yerava was returned as the dialect of 2,687 and, in 1901, 13,175 individuals in Coorg,
By adding all these figures we arrive at the following total for Malayajam :—
Census of 1891. Ceiisut of 1001.
Spoken at home by ....... 5,419,253 5,999,934
Spoken abroad by ....... 4,139 9,022
Yerava - . 2,587 13,175
According to Dr. Gundert, the history of Malayalam literature commences with the
Eamncharita (13th or 14th century) . Before that time the lan-
guage had been used in a few inscriptions. The oldest Mala-
yalam literature imitated Tamil poetry, and not Sanskrit, Later the literary productions
of the Malayalam country came under the spell of the sacred tongue of Aryan India, and
the great Sanskrit epics were translated. The classical epoch of Malayalam literature begin
with Tuiljattu Eruttachchhan (17th century) #ho is said to have introduced the modem
alphabet. He translated the Mahabharata and some of the Pura^as. Towards the end
of the 18th century we find Kufijan Nambiar, the author of several comedies and songs,
and perhaps also of some translations from the Sanskrit, such as the Paiichatantra, the
350 BRAVIDIAN FAMILY.
Malayalam literature further comprises several folk sougs and folk tales, the
historical work Keralotpattit some medical works, etc.
Tipu's inrasiou dealt a fatal blow to Malayalam poetry, and in modern times
European missionaries and their native converts have been the principal supporters of
the vernactdar literature of the Malayalam country. For further details the student is
referred to the works mentioned under authorities below.
There is no refeirence to the Malayalam language in old Sanskrit literature. It
^ ,^ .,, was included in the Drdvida bhdshd. i.e., Tamil, of Kumarila
Authorities. , • > j »
Bhatta, and did not in fact branch off from that language
till a later period. The oldest mention of Malayalam as a separate form of speech seems
to be found in Femao Lopez de Castanheda's Mutoria do descobrimento e conquista da
India. Coimbra, 1551-1561. We here read, Vol. ii, p. 78, *A lingua dos Gentios de
Canara e Malabar.' See Colonel Yule's JSobson^Jobson^ under the heading Malabar, where
another reference is quoted, taken from A de Gouvea's Jornada do Arcepiscopo de Goa^
ID. Frey Aleixo de Menezes, Coimbra, 1606.
A Portuguese grammar with a Malayalam vocabulary was published in 1733. See
the list of authorities given below. Portuguese and Italian missionaries are stated to
have completed a Malayalam dictionary in 1746, based on materials accumulated in the
17th, perhaps even in the 16th, century.
The German Jesuit Johann Ernst Hanleden, who died in 1732, is stated by Fra
Paolino to have written a ' Malabar * grammar, which does not seem to have been
printed* Other grammars were written by Pater Clemens, Kome, 1784, and by Robert
Drummond, Bombay, 1799, and in 1781 J. Adam Cellarius published some notes on the
language. Compare below. In modern times several works on the laDguage have been
published, among which Dr. Gundert's grammar is facile princeps. This admirable
book is, however, written in Malayalam, and a scientific grammar of the language in a
European form of speech is not as yet forthcoming.
The Malayalam alphabet was described in Clemens Peanius* Alphabetum GrandO'
nico^ Malabar icum Samscrudomciim^ Rome, 1772.
The first printed book in Malayalam seems to have been the Symbolum ApostoH*
cnm^ printed in 1713 at an unknown place. Clemens Peanius issued a catechism in
1772, and specimens of the language were afterwards given by Hervas and others. See
the list printed below. The Old Testament in Malayalam appeared at Cottayam in
The list of authorities which follows is by no means complete. It only roisters
some of the principal works dealing witl^ Malayajam : —
Symbolum apostoUoum in lingua Malalarica. No place. 1713.
Grammatica Fortugueza hum toeuhulario 9m Poriugucz e Malahar, Tranqutbar, 1733.
Clemens Pi^AmvBt^^Aljphabitum Qrandonico'Malaharuum Sam$crudmicum . Komac, 1772. ComtaiiiB the
Lord's pia)?er in Malay a]am on p. 9Q%
ESS PlANHJS,— Oowptfndtarta legis 9xpUcatio omnibus OhrManis sqUu n9C9$$ana, Mahhdrioo
idiomate, Bomae, 1772.
wiiLLAEius, Jo. ADkUi^Bemmrkungen Uber He Spraehe, Wi8$en$ohafien und KUmh cUr Mahharen. Bata"
vische yerhandelingen, 1781, Part iii.
Clemens de Jisu,— (Jramwa^wa Malahara, Romae, 1784
Hervas T PANDtrao, LoRBNZO,*— Fooabti^anojpoltgrloifo con proUgomeni sopra pih d% ol Ungue. Cesena,
1786, ContaiDs, on p. 163, 63 words in Malayalam.
9) — 8agg%0 praUioo delle Ungue con prolegomeni e una racoUa di Orazioni Do*
minicali in pih di trecento Ungue dialeiti, Oesena, 1787. The Lord's
Prayer in Malayalam on p. 138 and p. 141.
Glossarium Oomparativum Unguarum Miu$ orhis. St. Petersbttrg, 1787. The Malayalam words con-
tained in this worK were very incorrect. They wore reprinted, with oorreotioQs by Fra Paolino,
Alter, Franz Cabl,— tf6er die Samshrdamische Spraehe, Wien, 179i.
Drcticmond, Robert,— Grammar 0/ the Malabar Language, Bombay, 1799.
Adeluno, JoHANN CmiSTOm, ---Mithridates oder allgemeine Spraohenhunde mii dem Vater TTmer aU
8praohprobe in hey nahe fUnfhundert Spraohen und Mundarten, Fonr Tolumes. Berlin, 1806-
1817. Notes on MalaySjam, with account of older works, Vol i, pp. 209 and ff. j Vol. ir, np. 68
and ff. ^
SpRiNO, F., — Outlines of a Grammar of the Malayalim Language, as spoken in the Provinces of North and
South Malabar and the Kingdoms of Travancore and Ooehin. Madras, 1839,
Peet, Ret. Joskph,— --4 Grammar of the Malayalim Language, dedicated by permission to Mis Mighnese
the Bajah of Travancore. Cottajam, 1841. Second edition, t6., 1860.
Bailey, Rev. B., — A Dictionary of Sigh and Oolloguial Malayalim and English, dedicated by permission
to Mis Mighness th^ Bajah of Travanc&re, Cottayam, 1846.
„ -^A Dictionary, English and Malayalim. Cottayam, 1849. Second edition, ib,, 1868.
Elliott [Elliot], W.,— 06ser«ah'o«j on the Language of the Goands and the identity of many of its terms
with words now in use in the Telugu^ Tamil and Oanarese. Journal of the Asiatic Society of
Bengal, Vol. xvi, Part ii, 1847, pp. 1140 and ff. Vocabularies on pp. 1144 and ff.
Hodgson, B. R.,^Aborigines of Southern India. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. x?iii,
Part i, 1849, ipf, 350 and ff. Reprinted in Miscellaneous Mssays relating to Indian Subjeots
Vol. ii, London, 1880, pp. 152 and ff. Vocabnlaries by W. Elliot, on pp. 352 and ft., pp. 154
and ff,, respectively.
Arbuthnott, a. 3., --Malayalam Selections with Translations, Grammatical Analysis and Vocabulary,
LaserOn, Rev. E., — A Dictionary of the Malayalim and English and the English and Malayalim Lan*
guages, Cottayam, 1850.
GcNDEET, H., — A Oatechism of Malayalam Grammar bangalore, 1860. Third edition reyised, re-
arranged, enlarged and translated by L. Garthwaite. Mangalore, 1881.
JonN, V,,^An Anglo'Malafjalam Vocabulary and Phrase Booh. Cottayam, 1860.
First Malayalim Translator. A Course of fifty Lessons, with a Vooahulary, Third edition. Mangalore
A Vocabtdary of English and Malayalim words. Cottayam, 1868.
Malabarico^Latina Grammatica. Cochin, 1868.
Matthan, Rev. Qeoroe, — Malayalam Grammar. 1 have not seen the correct title ol this book, which is
written * in the language itself \ and was printed in 1868.
GuNDERT, Ret. 1H..,^A Grammar of the Malayalam Language. MangalorOi 1868, Witrten in Malayalam*
Beuttleb, Rev. J. S., — English and Malayalim Text Book (for Natives), Cottayam, 1869.
English and Malayalam School Dictionary. Mangalore, 1870.
Malayalam and English School Dictionary, Mangalore, 1870.
Campbell, Sir George, — Specimens of Languages of India. Calcutta, 1874. Malayft|am on pp. 44
GoNDiRT, Rev. H., — A Mdlayalam and English Dictionary. Mangalore, 1872.
Malayalam and English Vocabulary. Tellicherry, 1877,
GoviNDA PiLLAT,— JETw^ori/ of the Malayalam Language and Literature, in Malayalam, 1881. The title
has been taken from Mr. Frohnmeyer*s Grammar.
[SiKEMiEB, W., AND C. Watsa], — A Polyglott Vocabulary, English, German, Oanarese, Tulu and Malaya^
lam, containing 1,600 of the mo^t uxAful words of the Language cldssified under praetical
362 DRA.VIDIAN FAMILY.
headingi andprint$d in far dlel oolumm both in the Vemamlar ttnd in Bomcn Lett^n. Manga-
Grjims's Ghtiary of Wordi and Phraiei relating to tlie Land Ttnnru and Land A$i€Mm$nti of Mala*
bar, tifith notei and etymological headingt, (Edited, with a pre&iorj note, by W. Logan.)
Madras, 1882. Reprinted in W. Logan, Malabar, Madraa, 1887, Vol. ii, Appendix 25.
Manual of the Adminietraiion of the Madrae Preiidency, Madias, 1885-189S. Painm.
FaoHNiiiTiR, L, J.,—- il Pfogreeeive Qrammar of the Malay alam Lmngnage for Europeane. Mangalore,
Matayalim-Latin-BngUih I>iotiona'y by a discalced Carw^Ute mimtmary of the Terapoly arehdiocese,
PanGhatantram edited in Malayalamuith notes' and vcoahulary, by L. QarthmiU. Mangalore, 1^7.
T. K. Kbishma MiHOir, — Hfotee on Malay alam Literature^ Jomtnal of the Eqyal Asiatic Sociefrf, 1^00,
pp. 763 and ff.
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